#1 Amazon, USA TODAY, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author Freida McFadden is a practicing physician specializing in brain injury who has penned multiple bestselling psychological thrillers and medical humor novels. Freida’s work has been selected as one of Amazon Editors’ best books of the year and she has been a Goodreads Choice Award nominee. Her novels have been translated into over 30 languages.
Freida lives with her family and black cat in a centuries-old three-story home overlooking the ocean, with staircases that creak and moan with each step, and nobody could hear you if you scream. Unless you scream really loudly, maybe.
Freida’s latest novel THE HOUSEMAID’S SECRET is the explosive and shockingly twisty sequel to international bestseller The Housemaid will keep you racing through the pages late into the night. It was published on February 20, 2023 and I highly recommend it!
Note: Since transcription was performed with the assistance of software, and not by a human, there is a possibility that some errors may be present.
Alan Petersen 0:00
You are listening to meet the thriller author, a podcast where I interview some of the most talented mystery and thriller writers out there. I’m your host Alan Petersen and this is episode number 193.
In this episode of the podcast we’ll be meeting number one Amazon and USA Today Best Selling Author Freda McFadden. Frieda is a medical doctor specializing in brain injury. And also a prolific writer who has penned a multiple Kindle best selling psychological thrillers, and medical human novels. Her books have been recognized with honors such as selection as one of Amazon editors best books of the year, and a nomination for the Goodreads Choice Award. Her novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and in this episode, we’ll be discussing her latest book, The housemates secret, which is a sequel to the international bestseller, and one of my personal favorite thrillers of 2022 the housemade.
The much anticipated sequel will be hitting the shelves on February 20, I was able to get an advanced review copy of the hospital’s secret and you won’t be disappointed I highly recommend you check out that her latest thriller now before we get to the interview, though, I’d like to tell you a little bit about this episode’s sponsor masterclass. If you’re looking to take your skills to the next level, then you need to check out masterclass the online education platform that provides access to tutorials and lectures pre recorded by experts in their respective fields with masterclass you can learn from world renowned instructors like Neil Gaiman, Gordon Ramsay, Serena Williams, and many more all from the comfort of your own home. Whether you’re looking to improve your cooking, writing, or even your acting skills masterclass has you covered. Plus our classes are available on demand so you can learn at your own pace and at your own schedule. So don’t miss out this incredible opportunity to learn from the best visit THRILLINGREADS.COM/MASTERCLASS and sign up for master class today and take the first step toward mastering your craft. For show notes and access to more than 190 author interviews please visit THRILLINGREADS.COM And please take a moment to rate and review meet the thriller author on your favorite podcast but for him this helps me reach more listeners are right here is my interview with Freda McFadden. Hey everybody this is Alan with meet the thriller author and on the podcast today, I have Freida McFadden, who’s a number one Amazon and USA Today best selling author. She’s a practicing physician specializing in brain injury because Penn multiple Kindle best selling psychological thrillers and medical human novels. Her work has been selected as one of Amazon editors best books of the year, and she has been a good reader Choice Award nominee and her novels novels have been translated into over 30 languages. Her latest book, THE HOUSEMAID’S SECRET, which is a sequel to the international bestseller one of my favorite thrillers of 2022 is the housemade will be published on February 20. I’m so excited. You’re here. Welcome to the podcast.
Freida McFadden 2:54
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Alan Petersen 2:57
So, to get things rolling here, can you tell us a little bit about your latest book and what inspired you to write it?
Freida Mcfadden 3:04
Yeah, um, so my latest is the housemaid secret. It’s a sequel to the house made. And, you know, the House made just, you know, it blew me away the response from readers, it was so exciting. And I wasn’t ready to leave those characters behind. Everybody wanted to know what’s going to happen with Millie, what’s next in her story. And, you know, the the end kind of left things open for that. So I got this idea. And I’m like, I’m gonna write this and everyone was so excited about it. So I knew I had to do it. And I really wanted it to be a good experience with everyone. I mean, we’ve all read sequels that were kind of disappointing. So I wanted to make sure that it stayed true to the original and that people loved it just as much.
Alan Petersen 3:51
Yeah, that’s kind of different for the psychological thrillers because usually, like stand alone, so So really excited to see that kind of like a the series continuing with the same character.
Freida Mcfadden 3:58
Definitely. I mean, I have been hesitant to write sequels. Everybody’s like, oh, write a sequel to this book or that book. But I kind of feel like it gives away the ending just the existence of a sequel. So in general, I’m not excited to write them. But I felt like I could do this one, just from Millie’s point of view. And I think if you read this, you don’t it doesn’t give away anything from the first book. I think you can actually read it as a standalone because it’s just Millie story. So I really tried hard to give that and I don’t know if sequels. There’ll be any more sequels in the future, but I thought I could make this happen. We’ll see.
Alan Petersen 4:40
Ya know, I’m excited. And so that comes out February 20. So that’s coming right around the corner from a recording this. Yeah.
Freida Mcfadden 4:51
People are listening. Yeah, exactly.
Alan Petersen 4:52
Yeah. Listen to this. It already out. So go get it but I’m just ready for pre order. So that’s it. Yeah. So The the success of this of the housemaid? And as your name is like all over the Amazon’s top 100. That’s surreal. How does that feel obviously that for you,
Freida Mcfadden 5:12
it’s so crazy. I mean, I’ve been writing books since I was nine years old. And it was always just fun. And when I started self publishing, it was all just, you know, me having fun like this is I love to write, and I just wanted to share what I was writing with everyone. And I never was aiming or intending for this to happen. But it is so exciting. Like, I’m just, it’s so makes me so happy that so many people are enjoying my books. And it’s it’s really like a dream. Like, it’s amazing.
Alan Petersen 5:47
It was that like when you first started putting, publishing your books, I mean, they they just started like taking off whether you like market, just kind of curious.
Freida Mcfadden 5:55
It was not like that at all. It was a very slow trajectory. I published my first book in 2013. And I had this blog about being a doctor at the time. And my first book was about my residency, and my internship specifically and like, I had this senior resident who was so mean to me, and I wanted to write a book about it. So and I just, you know, I was just like, I just want to tell this story. I didn’t care about selling it, I was like, people from my blog will buy it. And I sold, I think I remember selling 500 copies the first few months, and I was so happy with that. I’m like, I’ve done it, I’ve published my book, I’m done. And then of course, I got another idea. And then it just, you know, it snowballed. And then when COVID hit, I think a lot of people know this, you know, I think people started reading more. And all of a sudden, my books became much, much more popular, just pretty suddenly. And that was amazing. And, you know, for me, I’m just doing the same thing doing what’s fun. And I just feel lucky that people are reading it.
Alan Petersen 7:08
And so your characters, I think that’s one of the reasons you do your book so much is the characters are everywhere. They’re so interesting, and they’re cool. And so I was just kind of curious, how do you approach that process of creating characters for your novels?
Freida Mcfadden 7:23
So I’m glad to hear you say they’re cool. The protagonists are always based on me, of course.
Alan Petersen 7:31
Okay, so you’re cool. All right.
Freida Mcfadden 7:33
So I’m cool. I have to tell my kids best. Guess what? So yeah, I think every all my protagonists, you know, when it people criticize them, they say, Oh, they’re not likable. They’re kind of, you know, we, they’re, you know, they get pushed around too easily. I’m like, Yeah, that sounds about right.
Alan Petersen 7:57
But they’ll piss you off.
Freida Mcfadden 8:01
But, yeah, um, but, you know, the other characters, I mean, sometimes are based on people I know, in real life. You know, I look at the house made is kind of a bad boss story, at least the beginning of it, you know, we all had that awful boss, right? Who’s just so mean, and terrible. I love terrible boss stories. So that was kind of the beginning of that, you know, we’ve all had that experience. And, you know, it’s just, I kind of come up with characters that I think are fun to read about, and situations that I think are super frustrating, you know, that might come up in real life. And I think people like to read about that they like to see, you know, the protagonist, get tortured and then see how they deal with that. I think that’s something that’s enjoyable. I like to read about at least.
Alan Petersen 8:55
Yeah, that’s been fun with with his this sub genre, the psychological thrillers because, like regular regular people versus you know, an FBI or police. Yeah,
Freida Mcfadden 9:03
I’m not gonna write an FBI story. That’s just not going to happen. Do you
Alan Petersen 9:09
think that’s why they become so popular, though, especially now? Is this because people like it’s okay, that I can see myself in this situation?
Freida Mcfadden 9:15
Yeah, I think that’s the thing with domestic thrillers like you put yourself in that situation. And I always write in the first person, and I try to write in a very conversational way. Like, I actually dictate a lot of my writing. So I think that’s why it sounds very conversational. It’s it’s literally me talking. And I think people like that, you know, it’s just, I describe my writing as like, a friend telling you an especially juicy piece of gossip. Like yeah, so I want to hear more of this stuff.
Alan Petersen 9:47
And did you enjoy like, before you started writing the the, the psychological thriller, did you enjoy the genre? Had you read them before?
Freida Mcfadden 9:54
Yeah. I think that’s part of why I started writing them. So I’ve always loved thrillers. You know, when I was a kid I used to read my favorite for Mary Higgins Clark. I love Robin Cook Medical thrillers whilst Michael Creighton. I’ve always loved to read. And you know, kind of read thrillers on and off and I love Gone Girl of course who didn’t. But then I read a book by an author named Shalini Boland, have you heard of her? No, I haven’t. No, she’s an amazing British author. And it was a domestic thriller, I think it’s called the best friend. And it was really well done and that, like, I remember waking up, like, in the middle of the night mad at the characters in this book, like, I was so angry about what was happening in the book. And I kind of wanted to recreate that feeling of being so passionate about this could be happening to me, and this is so frustrating. Like, I want to punch this character in the face. So that was kind of what inspired me to start writing domestic thrillers.
Alan Petersen 11:12
Well, you you really hit that out of the park with the house because I went through all those emotions.
Freida Mcfadden 11:16
Yeah. I’m like, if you don’t want to punch the character, nice. I have failed.
Alan Petersen 11:25
So I’m curious. Just in case, the listeners aren’t too familiar with this genre. So like, what makes it a what makes a thriller psychological?
Freida Mcfadden 11:38
Wow, that was a good question. I think. I’ve never been asked that before. I think it’s just like kind of mind twisting type of thing like, like, people but my mother was sometimes reads my book and she’s always like, this is horror. And I was like, it’s not a horror. It’s a psychological thriller it because but who knows what the differences nobody really does. So I’ll just make something up now. It it bends your brain maybe without like actually showing you something disgusting. Like in a horror movie, like in a horror movie. You know, the, the person has been chopped into little pieces, and they show every little detail of it. And then in a psychological thriller. The person is just in the room waiting to be chopped up and you’re kind of in their head and you’re feeling like their fear. And but there’s no disgusting chopping up. Does that make sense?
Alan Petersen 12:38
Yeah, actually, I’m here nodding in agreement. Yeah, it kind of looks like the Alfred Hitchcock movies. They say he’s a master of horror, but they’re more like suspense, a psychological like psycho. And
Freida Mcfadden 12:50
I, I love Alfred Hitchcock. And one of my books is like a tribute to his movies. Do Not Disturb it’s, it’s mostly about it’s mostly a tribute to psycho. It’s about like a creepy motel. But it actually includes little details from rear window and also some episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which I used to love when I was younger. And Nick at Night. I think I used to watch it. So I’m a huge fan. And he does it so well. Real Genius.
Alan Petersen 13:32
Yeah, I love those. Yeah, remember those two? Watching that? Cable? The reruns of his his TV show is really good.
Freida Mcfadden 13:41
Yeah. And he’s so funny, too. Yeah.
Alan Petersen 13:45
Yeah, his interests were so cool.
Freida Mcfadden 13:47
Alan Petersen 13:49
So, so click here is that too now just getting into the because, as a writer, I get Snoopy as other writers, routines and all that. So I’m gonna get us to be here. So let’s do you have like a set writing routine when you’re working on something? Or do you prefer Do you start to write Do you have an outline? How does your process work?
Freida Mcfadden 14:09
Um, I’m pretty regimented. But not in the way that a lot of other writers are. Because I do have another job. So I will wait for a time when I’m not too busy. So we do for like either a vacation week or week when you know, I know my schedule is really light. And before I get to that point, I plan all in my head. I don’t write outlines. But I think I’m always thinking often in the shower, sometimes while walking, driving. And I’m constantly planning the story for maybe two months before I start writing. And then when I sit down, it’s like a binge thing. I like write like a crazy person for like, a couple of weeks, and then it’s done. But it’s like a whole process leading up did that. And then of course editing comes after that takes forever.
Alan Petersen 15:05
Yeah. So you know, it’s like, you know, we just you start to write it, you already have the whole the whole story but like in your head, so it’s just like getting it out of there.
Freida Mcfadden 15:13
Yeah, it’s in my head. I don’t Yeah, some people do these very detailed outlines. I don’t like that because I just don’t I’m, I plot them out. But I also like to let the characters take me where they want to like, because you don’t know until you start writing. Like, I’m going to really like this character, this one is going to speak to me, you create some side character that suddenly you really, really like, and you think there could be an important part of the story that you just don’t know until you get down there. And I don’t want to be tied down by some outline I wrote. So I do plan a lot, especially the twist. I don’t see how any, you know, they talked about plotter versus pants, or I don’t even see how a psychological thriller author could PAMPs is that A is that a? Is that a verb pan?
Alan Petersen 16:05
I think it is. Yeah, I think it’s become one.
Freida Mcfadden 16:08
Yeah, so I don’t see how you could pants. Because you know, you have to set up this twist, the twist is super important. And if you don’t know what it is going into it, it’s very hard to set it up. But um, you know, so I do have that before I start writing I am not going to go into that is the one thing that’s important to me, I will not start writing until I’ve got a twist that this is a way I know it’s a good twist. I tell it to my husband, I go into the whole story with him. And I tell him the twist. And if he says oh, that’s pretty cool. Where he laughs That’s another option. Then I’m like, Okay, I could write this.
Alan Petersen 16:49
Do you usually go like for the? Like, is it like one big twist? Or is it? Yeah, like multiple twists? Are you just looking for that one big one.
Freida Mcfadden 16:59
So I think you know, I think it all really has to be one twist. But the twist can have components that sort of come together. Like it’s, you know, they should all sort of each part of it should fit together. But it’s really all one, I think but you one could argue like there are many twists. And it’s very actually I would say the housemaid secret might have to twist. How about that. All right,
Alan Petersen 17:28
cool. Look forward to discovering those. So how do you battle this? Like your physician? So you like that’s a pretty big busy day job? How do you balance the demands of other aspects of your life?
Freida Mcfadden 17:44
I mean, I also have two children. Oh, yeah, I, I wish there were like 25 or 26 hours in the day. You know, it can be challenging. And there are some times when I’m doing well. And other times when I am not doing it as well. But I try my best i i do work only part time as a physician. So that helps. About four and a half years ago, I went from more full time to part time. So that’s given me a lot more time for my writing. I’m also the kind of person who always likes to be busy and doing five things at once. So, you know, I do a lot of social media stuff. And people will say, how are you constantly doing this? Like, don’t you have a goal? You have a job? I’m like, Well, I’m kind of doing it. You know, I’m in a meeting and the meeting. Isn’t that interesting. So I got my phone out. I’m like, like in comments. And, you know, nobody notices I’m doing an under the table. I mean, no meetings are important. I’m just gonna say that. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a meeting in my life. That was important. So I think it’s okay.
Alan Petersen 18:51
You should when you finish those meetings, you like this, it’s really necessary.
Freida Mcfadden 18:54
Yeah, exactly. I’m like, you know, I don’t say that anymore. Because I got a lot done on social media during this meeting. So thank you.
Alan Petersen 19:03
You mentioned social media too, because I think I first started to hearing seeing your your husband popping up was on Tik Tok. Yeah, how does so I don’t know much about tick tock. I mean, I’ve been there and I’ve seen it, but it’s like, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Freida Mcfadden 19:18
Anything about tick tock?
Alan Petersen 19:20
Just that they love your book?
Freida Mcfadden 19:22
It just happened and I wish I could say that like I had the the the magic tick tock formula, but I do not. I have an account. I think I know how to log in. I’ve watched a couple of videos. I have no idea how to record a video. I
Alan Petersen 19:44
will show you how to do it dancing and all that stuff.
Freida Mcfadden 19:46
Yeah, I don’t think you’re ever going to see me dancing on Tik Tok. I’m sorry, that’s just not it’s not in my repertoire.
Alan Petersen 19:55
But did you do when when I started getting a lot of attention on there. did you how did you how did that come to you? Do you notice that? Did you realize it like, oh, what’s going on over there?
Freida Mcfadden 20:05
Yeah, it was mostly told to me like somebody who was like your books really? You’re really popular on Tik Tok and I’m like, What’s tick tock? No, I didn’t know what tick tock was but it only vaguely so I’m like, Okay, I gotta start an account like it’s see what’s going on. On Tik Tok and I love that people on Tik Tok enjoy my book, and then it’s helped me and I have no idea what to do with all that. Like, I think I figured on Instagram. I figured out Facebook thinks I’m just too old for Tik Tok. And I appreciate that younger savvy or people are promoting me on there. I’m very appreciative. But I’m too old.
Alan Petersen 20:50
Well, that’s good. Yeah, yeah, like a publicity team on there and tick tock. Yeah.
Freida Mcfadden 20:55
I don’t even have to pay them, I guess.
Alan Petersen 20:58
Freida Mcfadden 21:00
No, I’m very grateful. Because I can’t figure out how to do it. So it’s, I’m
Alan Petersen 21:05
curious to know, like, do you you said it sometimes takes takes, like, a month or something to get the idea for your book? Do you write everyday though? Do you set time to write every day?
Freida Mcfadden 21:16
Um, I don’t like I, as I said, I’m a binge writer, I’ll like write a lot. Like, I could write 10,000 words in a day. Oh, wow. And I’ll have it’s dictated, as I said, and then I can go like a couple of months without writing. And you know, and I like to write I like to kind of share myself. So I do ever reader group. I called it on Facebook called freedom, MC fans, I thought that was extremely clever when I came up with that. And I tell little stories about my life there. And that kind of satisfies my urge to, to tell little stories and to write a little bit every day, but I’m not doing you know, heavy duty storytelling each day, I just need a break. I just can’t like you don’t I, I have another job. This needs to be fun for me. Like this needs to be something that’s enjoyable. And if I had to do this every day, it would be a job. And I do not want that.
Alan Petersen 22:21
Have you come up? I know this is the kind of like a boring question. But it’s always fascinating to me. So how do you decide on the titles for your books?
Freida Mcfadden 22:29
It’s the hardest part. You could write like, 80,000 words. And that two or three word title is like impossible, like I don’t know. So I always have like, kind of a working title in my head. And sometimes I’m very lucky and I can use it. And other times it doesn’t work out. So two times recently. So with the house made, I was writing it several years before it was published. And the working title in my head was the maid. I thought that was a great title for it. And then a book came out by Nina Anita brews called the maid and it was very, very popular. So I was like, I guess I can’t call my book that anymore. And so, you know, I did the book with a company called Buddha tour. And they came up with the housemaid, and they are a British company. And I had never heard that word before. I was like, what is that? How it’s made like that, like I’m a cleaning person. I don’t, though. It’s I guess it’s the same as a maid, but it’s the British version. But um, it’s not a word I would use but I now I love the word that it totally suits the book. So I’m very happy with the housemaid
Alan Petersen 23:53
the butler or something? Yeah.
Freida Mcfadden 23:56
Yeah, no, we don’t know about Butler still in in Britain? I don’t know.
Alan Petersen 24:00
Yeah, sure. Oh, no. Yeah, mille probably like the King Charles does probably.
Freida Mcfadden 24:09
Remember Mr. Belvedere? He was?
Alan Petersen 24:11
Absolutely. The 80s
Freida Mcfadden 24:14
Tell him Do you really telling my age now? Yeah, and then there’s another book I did. It’s called never lie. And the working title for that was the therapist because it’s about you know, a psychiatrist. And of course, you know, ba Paris they begin with came out with a book called The therapist right when I was finished writing it so that so I had to scramble and come up with another title. And people will say it sometimes they I don’t think this is the best title for your book. And I’m like, I’m sorry. Someone else took my title.
Alan Petersen 24:54
Yeah, you gotta come up faster. Now, when you get your titles.
Freida Mcfadden 24:59
I know. I was like, I i i always get scooped. I don’t know why they are they they’re on my hard drive somehow knowing what I’m writing.
Alan Petersen 25:09
Yeah, you mentioned Book, book butcher.
Freida Mcfadden 25:12
But good too. I might be saying that wrong.
Alan Petersen 25:15
Oh, I know me too. I obviously butcher it. But I’m really impressed with their, their the books that they put out the they seem to really have hit the thriller world very nicely with with the with their books.
Freida Mcfadden 25:28
Oh, yeah. They have a lot of great authors on there. The one I mentioned Shelley Boland, she’s on there. And I know a lot of other authors, another author I friendly with Daniel Hurst who puts out some amazing books. He really started. Yeah, he recently started writing with them. They’ve got some great authors. And they’ve definitely you know, they’re very good to work with very nice people. And my my editor there gave me some great advice. I don’t think the housemaid would have been as good without my editor, Ellen. So very grateful to them for that. Yeah, I
Alan Petersen 26:13
met Daniel Herston of Las Vegas system at a Writers Conference.
Freida Mcfadden 26:19
But he got it. He’s super nice. I love his books.
Alan Petersen 26:26
Yeah. And so you the first books you put out on your own you were an indie. So what was the transition to working with a with a publishing house? Was that was that for you? It was alright.
Freida Mcfadden 26:38
It wasn’t too bad. I mean, I think it was nice having a little bit of a professional guidance on the manuscript. Usually I just use my own BETA readers and editors. And, um, it was it was different, you know, you have to give up some of the control. You know, I each thing, they, you know, then they gave me the blurb. I’m like, no, no, no, I want it like this. And this and this and this. And, you know, I It’s hard to give up that control. Can you hear me? It’s, nevermind. Oh, yeah. It suddenly said mute. Sorry. So it was good, too. It was good to have a little bit more professional guidance. And I was worried about the cover. I was like, what if they give me a bad cover? What will I say? And then they showed me the cover? And I like almost cried. I was like I love this cover.
Alan Petersen 27:35
Your covers are awesome. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, their covers are for the the books that put out I’ve always been very impressed with them.
Freida Mcfadden 27:47
Yeah, I love that like eye catching on my cover. And the yellow and I love the new one, too. I think it was, you know, the red, red and yellow. Little bit McDonald fish, but I still love it.
Alan Petersen 28:02
I hadn’t thought about the whole McFadden. Right. It’s gotta go.
Freida Mcfadden 28:07
Yeah, exactly. It totally fits.
Alan Petersen 28:11
And so I’m kind of curious too, about. Like, you mentioned before, how you think you think about your story in your head for a while? Do you do a lot of research for your books?
Freida Mcfadden 28:23
Um, Google is my friend. How did anyone write a book before Google Doc? Imagine
Alan Petersen 28:28
a. James Michener who does this huge books, how do you do it?
Freida Mcfadden 28:34
I remember dating myself again, I remember going to libraries to do research for school projects and stuff. And it was awful. There was like this decimal thing that you had to know. And I never figured it out. So I’m very glad that Google came along, because I might have had to learn this decimal thing to use libraries. Yeah, so I Google everything, but I do other research, too. I really try to make things very authentic when I can. I have this book about the inmate, which is about a nurse practitioner in a prison. So I know, you know, the nurse practitioner. I know what the medical part I know, of course, but I I had a friend set me up with a physician assistant who worked in a prison seeing patients and we chatted and he told me about his experiences. And I also read a couple of books by people who did medical work at present. So I really try to keep things accurate. And I know sometimes things are not accurate just because I have to take poetic license to make the plot work. You know, somebody will say, Oh, this would have taken years and you made it take two months. I’m like, you don’t you didn’t want to read two years of like, you know, minutiae. So just be happy that I changed it. Google Google for the most part. And, you know, I hope that the police never get into my computer and check my internet history. I will also be in prison for.